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I drove by the new campus for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation on Sunday afternoon, and I was absolutely dumbfounded by the magnitude of the place. The 12-acre site — rising in the shadow of Seattle’s iconic Space Needle — kind of put things into perspective in terms of how much money Seattle’s best known billionaire plans to give away to charity during his lifetime.

The Microsoft co-founder has already been doing a pretty good job of donating his fortune, supporting global health and education initiatives. And according to Reuters, that philanthropic work may cost Bill G the richest man title when Forbes comes out with its annual list of billionaires on Wednesday.

According to Reuters, Bill Gates is now worth roughly $49 billion, which would put him behind Mexican telecommunications tycoon Carlos Slim. (estimated net worth of $60 billion).

However, if Gates had not given away $28 billion, the software pioneer would easily still be in the lead. And there’s another factor at work too: Microsoft’s stagnant stock price.

Gates has diminished his stake in Microsoft over the years, and now owns 7.2 percent of the company.  But even so, his Microsoft holdings are significant.

It certainly hasn’t helped Gates’ pocket book that Microsoft’s stock has lost nine percent of its value in the past 10 years.

I’ve seen Gates speak on a number of occasions and have met him once in passing. My sense is that he won’t care too much about losing the richest-man title (and actually might relish the idea).

We will be looking forward to the Forbes report on Wednesday, and reporting on its findings here on GeekWire.

We’re especially interested to see where Seattle’s other tech billionaires land, namely’s Jeff Bezos (certainly rising up the charts) and Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen.

John Cook is co-founder of GeekWire, a technology news site based in Seattle.

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